Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. But when you're an income investor, your primary focus is generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments.
While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on dividends. A dividend is the distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders; it's often viewed by its dividend yield, a metric that measures a dividend as a percent of the current stock price. Many academic studies show that dividends make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.
Kroger in Focus
Based in Cincinnati, Kroger (KR - Free Report) is in the Retail-Wholesale sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of -10.29%. The supermarket chain is paying out a dividend of $0.14 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.27% compared to the Retail - Supermarkets industry's yield of 2.18% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.96%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.56 is up 5.7% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Kroger has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 10.71%. Any future dividend growth will depend on both earnings growth and the company's payout ratio; a payout ratio is the proportion of a firm's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Right now, Kroger's payout ratio is 27%, which means it paid out 27% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
KR is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.25 per share, with earnings expected to increase 6.64% from the year ago period.
From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. However, not all companies offer a quarterly payout.
For instance, it's a rare occurrence when a tech start-up or big growth business offers their shareholders a dividend. It's more common to see larger companies with more established profits give out dividends. Income investors have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, KR is a compelling investment opportunity. Not only is it a strong dividend play, but the stock currently sits at a Zacks Rank of 3 (Hold).